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Manik Mandal in Press Conference

Following is a note circulated in a Press Conference held in Delhi on 31 August 2010 by Manik Mandal, a Bengal Writer arrested and incarcerated in a prison along with two other intellectuals by the West Bengal government for visiting Jangalmahal region under the brutal deployment of joint security forces of the Union and West Bengal government.

There are a few other letters attached here which were circulated by Manik Mandal in the same Press Conference. These letters from the political prisoners speak volumes of facts about the most brutal war atrocities of the Indian government on the poorest of the poor. They were received by Manik Mandal from his fellow prisoners. The original Bengali versions are scanned and attached along with their English translations.

Bapi Mehto’s letters have already appeared in Tehleka Magazine. They reveal the facts behind Jnaneswari Train tragedy in which 148 people were killed and several hundreds injured. The other letters and material expose many other facts.

The attached letters speak for themselves. No comment is required.

Press Note Circulated by the Bengali Writer, Manik Mandal in Press Conference addressed by him in New Delhi31 August 2010. on

Friends,

I am a writer, journalist and social activist. In the current turmoil situation I have travelled across Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh etc and have written extensively about the struggle of the people in my books. On 11 June 2010 I along with scientist Nisha Biswas and teacher Kanishka Choudhury entered Lalgarh, in Jungalmahal, flouting the administrative blockade that currently exists there.

The condition in several villages of West Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia are simply terrible right now. The state repression has crossed all limits. For almost two years these areas are under the restriction of section 144. The adivasi people are completely being suppressed by the Congress/CPM governments of both center and state. The reality of Lalgarh is not coming out to the outside world at all. What we get in the name of ‘facts from Lalgrah’ are all distorted, full of lies, misleading and filthy and do not represent the reality at all.

Between 12th to 15th June we travelled to the villages of Bokmir Bandh, Kalmidanga, Patri, Rameshwarpur and gathered a lot of experiences. We saw how people are doing alternative development work, we even attended one people’s court. On 15th June several hundreds of Joint Forces surrounded around 10-12 villages and arrested three of us along with 73 other villagers. We were made to walk 8 miles on foot and finally brought to the Pirakanta camp under the Shalboni Police Station. We were immediately branded as ‘anti-nationals’ and ‘maoists’ and were removed to Medinipur central jail. After spending 42 days there we were finally let out on bail.

We have seen how the Buddhadeb Government is using the Joint forces to capture village after village in these areas. The Joint forces are duly assisted by the trained harmad vahini (CPM’s vigilante group). In the captured villages people are being murdered, women are being raped, houses are being looted and gutted down by these forces. Almost 90 PCAPA members have been killed so far by the security forces and the harmad and more than hundred are missing. I have interacted with many prisoners in the jail and came across their spine-chilling accounts. Almost all the prisoners currently holed up in Medinipur central jail are innocent adivasis of Jungalmahal. Many people are forced to flee to the forests. People are being booked under several cases. There are no way these people can return to their homes and villages. The central and state governments are talking about entering into dialogue with the maoists but they are not mentioning about talking with the PCAPA. In 2008 November PCAPA was formed under the leadership of Lalmohan Tudu, Sidhu Soren, Chhatradhar Mahato, Santosh Patro and others. They raised extremely democratic demands to which the Indian state refused to pay any heed. Instead of getting into a dialogue with these leaders to negotiate with their demands, today Chhatradhar Mahato has been illegally arrested, Lalmohan Tudu and Sidhu Soren have been brutally killed in fake encounters, while Santosh Patro is forced to abscond.

In the jail I was kept in cell number 32 with Chhatradhar Mahato and Sukhshanti Bashkey (of PCAPA) Prasun Chatterjee, Raja Sarkhel (of Gana Pratirodh Mancha). In the cell underneath ours the main accused of the Jnaneshwari Tragedy, Bapi Mahato, Hiralal Mahato, Khagen Mahato and Samir Mahato were kept. They wrote letters exposing the reality of the sabotage and through me they have tried to inform the people about the real culprits and the dubious role of the administration in the entire incident. I have attached their letters (both original and translation) along with this note.

Most of the ‘news’ that are coming in various media about Jungalmahal are concocted and untrue. I shall mention some of them. I have enough interaction with people in Jungalmahal to be convinced of the following things:

1)The allegations that the state has put against Chhatradhar Mahato are all false and bizzarre.

2)The recent ‘encounter’ in the forests of Ranja where some alleged maoists who were killed and there bodies were hog-tied by the security forces, were all innocent villagers and not maoist squad members as claimed by the state.

3)Rameshwar Murmu, the ‘maoist’ arrested in Ranja forest is young boy who is deaf, dumb and mentally challenged. He is being projected as a different Rameshwar Murmu.

4)Umakanto Mahato, Shashadhar Mahato, Asit Patro are not involved in Jnaneshwari sabotage. Neither has it been orchestrated by PCAPA. Even Bapi Mahato, Hiralal Mahato etc are not involved in this incident.

5)The statement of Uma Mandi which was published in a particular newspaper on the 24th of June is completely concocted and false. It is a totally tell-tale lie by the police.

6)The government is spending money to build harmad camps in Jungal mahal. These harmads just like the Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh are being used to rape, loot and kill people.

I can establish all these facts. My sources of information are the people of Jungalmahal whose voices are completely being choked by sheer force and the reality of their lives as well as struggles are completely being erased. The state is using a certain section of the media to repeatedly push for fictitious and false version of reality. We need to talk more about the extreme state repression and the repression by the vigilante gangs that the people of jungalmahal are facing. We also need to talk more about their heroic resistance. The alternative development these people have been doing despite the ongoing siege and state repression should be brought to the focus of the general public outside Jungalmahal. I would request the media to revisit Jungalmahal. The state and central government are being absolutely fascist in restricting the media to enter in these war zones and see the suffering and the resistance of the people. Let us break this fascist siege and stand by the people of jungalmahal who braving extreme state repression are waging one of the most heroic struggles of our time.

MANIK MANDAL.
Contact: 9339080352, 9330065590

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